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Antarctic Direct Action: Japanese Claims of Injuries are Bogus says Sea Shepherd

Captain Paul Watson, from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, has refuted Japanese claims that two whalers were injured during an engagement between the Sea Shepherd vessel 'Robert Hunter' and the 'Nisshin Maru' on Friday. Sea Shepherd activists threw 6 one litre bottles of foul smelling but non-toxic butyric acid to the flensing deck of the 'Nisshin Marun' Whaling Factory Ship.
Antarctic Pirates
Antarctic Pirates
Antarctic Rescue
Antarctic Rescue
Japanese Whalers Cry Foul - Photo by Institute for Cetecean Research
Japanese Whalers Cry Foul - Photo by Institute for Cetecean Research
According to a senior official at Japan's Fisheries Agency, two Japanese crewmen were injured during the delivery of the butyric acid, when one crewman was hit in the face by an empty container of acid and the other when acid was squirted into one of his eyes. Japanese Fisheries Official claimed that "These are completely piratical, dangerous acts. They are also very dangerous, and we want them to stop this immediately."

Captain Paul Watson said "My crew did not injure anyone," said Captain Watson. "This is just a spin designed to get public sympathy for men who are themselves vicious and ruthless killers of whales."

"Nice try, but a total fabrication," said Captain Watson. "The butyric acid is contained in one-liter glass bottles, all of which broke upon contact with the flensing deck of the Nisshin Maru. These bottles are sealed and the acid released after being broke, so it is impossible to be hit by an empty bottle. Secondly, no one squirted butyric acid into anyone's eye, and even if they did, this is a simple non-toxic butter acid, basically rancid butter. It will not cause eye injury. If we had tossed marshmallows on the deck of the Nisshin Maru, I'm sure the whalers would try to claim they were injured by them"

Johnny Vasic also defended the the use of butyric acid, saying it had no harmful effects other than smelling bad and was aimed to disrupt the whalers' work. "That's one of our tactics, to wake them up to the smell of rotting flesh which is all over their ships," he told the BBC from on board one of the activist ships.

Before the engagement between the Sea Shepherd vessel 'Robert Hunter' and the 'Nisshin Maru', Sea Shepherd called for the Nisshin Maru to cease all whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary as sanctioned in international law and treaties:

"Nisshin Maru, this is Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd vessel Farley Mowat. Please be advised that you are killing whales in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary. You are targeting endangered species of whales in violation of international conservation law. You are killing whales in violation of the IWC global moratorium on commercial whaling. Please cease and desist your illegal whaling operations and leave the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary. We are acting in accordance with the principles of the United Nations World Charter for Nature. The Charter authorizes non-governmental organizations and individuals to uphold international conservation law."

Attempts were made by Sea Shepherd activists on the Robert Hunter and activists in zodiacs from the Farley Mowat to disable the Nisshin Maru. Several attempts were made to foul the propellors of the Nisshin Maru through the use of tow lines, and buoys and netting. Activists also sealed drainpipes from the flensing deck by the placement of steel plates over the drains, thus leading to the backup of blood and liquids from slaughtering the whales on the flensing deck.

In one of the attempts to foul propellors, a Zodiac inflatable was damaged in a collision with the hull of the Nisshin Maru. The Zodiac inflatable carrying 2nd Officer Karl Neilsen, 29, of Australia, and Engineer John Gravois, 24, of the United States, fell back from the other Sea Shepherd ships after its fiberglass hull cracked and filled with water. The onset of poor weather conditions of heavy fog, snow, and sleet conditions hampered initial search efforts.

The Farley Mowat was immediately put into a search grid by Captain Paul Watson, who then issued a maritime distress call. The search was joined by the Sea Shepherd ship Robert Hunter. As it was an official distress, the Japanese factory vessel, also participated and joined in the search, as it was obligated to do under maritime regulations. The search lasted eight hours.

Both Sea Shepherd activists were found cold but safe and well after 8 hours. The radio of the activists had failed, and the deterioration in weather conditions forced them to "lasso" a small ice berg to provide some shelter from the wind and sleet.

Captain Watson thanked the Japanese captain after the men were found and then politely informed him that Sea Shepherd would return to the business of upholding international conservation law against illegal Japanese whaling operations.

The Sea Shepherd ships have spent the last five weeks searching for the Japanese Whaling Fleet. Sea Shepherd have alleged that satellite tracking information is being used by the Japanese fleet to avoid engagement with anti-whaling activist ships. The Robert Hunter and Farley Mowat travelled through pack ice close to Antarctica to reduce the ability of satellite tracking.

Canada cancelled the registration of the Farley Mowat in August 2006. Registration under the Belize Flag was cancelled after only 10 days in December 2006, after Japan had requested the ship be deregistered. The British Government has said the registration of the Robert Hunter will expire on the 18th February, after a request by Japan based on the use of the ship. This makes both Sea Shepherd vessels effectively "pirate ships" with no state registration. An irony considering that both vessels purport to be upholding international law and treaties to which no State has been willing to also enforce other than through ineffective diplomatic approaches.

"We haven't broken any law or regulation, but now we're not registered anywhere -- we're technically a pirate ship without a flag," said Captain Paul Watson from the Farley Mowat. "It means that we could be attacked and confiscated at will by any nation including the Japanese," he said.

In late January the New Zealand Air Force Spotted Japanese Whalers and filmed them hunting whales, but refused to release location details of the fleet.

The Japanese whaling fleet are targeting for slaughter 850 minke whales and 10 fin whales, as part of what it calls its programme of scientific research.

Both Sea Shepherd ships, the Farley Mowat and the Robert Hunter, are pursuing the Nisshin Maru in foul weather conditions. The Greenpeace vessel Esperanza is likely to join the pursuit in the next couple of days.

Sources:
Sea Shepherd - 9 Feb 2007- Japanese Claims of Injuries are Bogus
 http://www.seashepherd.org/news/media_070209_1.html

Sea Shepherd - 8 Feb 2007 - Japanese Whaling Fleet Forced to Run from Sea Shepherd
 http://www.seashepherd.org/news/media_070208_1.html

Sea Shepherd - 8 Feb 2007 - Whalers Activities Disrupted by Sea Shepherd
 http://www.seashepherd.org/news/media_070208_2.html

Institute for Cetecean Research - 9 Feb 2007 -
 http://www.icrwhale.org/gpandsea.htm

NineMSN - Whaling acid attack terrorist act: Japan
 http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=226674

BBC - 9 Feb 2007 - Whaling truce in high seas rescue
 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/6345131.stm

Reuters UK - 2 Feb 2007 - Anti-whaling ships say they have been made "pirates"
 http://tinyurl.com/33fhoa

It is harmful 09.Feb.2007 22:24

anonymous

The claim that pure butyric acid is harmless is absolutely ridiculous. Quoting from the MSDS (material safety data sheet) for this compound,

"Harmful if swallowed or inhaled. Corrosive. Extremely unpleasant smell may cause nausea. Liquid may burn skin and eyes. Readily absorbed through the skin. Severe skin, eye and respiratory irritant."

It is not just rancid butter. it is a strong acid and not something to be fooled around with. I have spilled it on my hand in a chemistry class and can attest to the fact that it does indeed burn the skin

please see
 http://ptcl.chem.ox.ac.uk/MSDS/BU/butyric_acid.html

they threw stinky vinegar 10.Feb.2007 13:50

chemist

of course nothing is completely harmless, but it all depends on context, hell, a woman died a few weeks ago from drinking too much water. everything can be harmful but it depends on what you do with it.

butyric acid splashing around on the deck of a high seas whaling ship is nothing compared to the risk those sailors expose themselves to everyday operating heavy machinery in rough seas, with sharp knives, lack of sleep, and diesel fumes. If you have been on commercial fishing vessles you know what I mean.

butyric acid is not as acidic as VINEGAR

people get all scared when they hear the word acid, especially with a chemical name they dont understand like butyric, but acid it relative.

For example vinegar (also called acetic acid) has a pka of 4.74, meaning that at pH of 4.74 (some-what acidic) half of the vinegar molecules would be neutral and half would be negatively charged with their hydrogens contributing to the acidity of the water

( http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/f?./temp/~pkCeL6:1)

remember pH is a log scale (like the earthquake scale), and 7.0 is neutral, 0 is totally acidic, and 14 is basic, too far away from 7.0 in either direction and it starts to burn)

to compare, hydrochloric acid has a pka of -8 !!! thats 12 orders of magnitude more acidic or 100,000,000 times more acidic!

citric acid (what makes a lemon tart) has a pka of 2.79
( http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/f?./temp/~amkhlf:1)

In contrast butyric acid has a pka of 4.82, less acidic than vinegar. In fact the german word for butyric acid is BUTTERSAEURE, or sour butter. When butter goes rancid this is what you are smelling.
( http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/f?./temp/~b8mXja:1

so calling it an acid is not the same as say battery acid

As far as toxicity goes butyric acid is just like vinegar, you should'nt spend much time with it against your skin or inhaling it because the slight acidity can irritate your skin and respiratory tract. But other than that it has NO OTHER TOXICITY. This is why we eat so many things with vinegar in them, because it is so non-toxic.

Yes it stinks, that is a form or irritation, which is why people avoid the shit, (it also is a component of the stinky smell in cow shit),

but for a couple of whaling sailors (or more likely their bosses PR slacks) to claim that they were hurt by 'acid' is just what it smells like,... a bunch of shit!